The Long Drop

Little, Brown. May 2017. 240p. ISBN 9780316380577. $28; ebk. ISBN 9780316380584. F
In Glasgow in December 1957, successful businessman William Watt hires noted defense lawyer Laurence Dowdall to defend him against charges he murdered his wife, sister-in-law, and daughter. The two men meet with recently released criminal Peter Manuel, who claims to have information—the location of the gun used in the killings—that will exonerate Watt. Manuel and Watt spend the evening together drinking and talking, but no gun is produced. Six months later, Manuel is on trial for these and five other murders, and Watt has been called to testify as a witness. The story, narrated in the present tense, alternates chapters between the end of 1957 when these characters first interact and the trial in May 1958, which decides the fate of both Watt and Manuel, effectively portraying a grimy, gritty Glasgow of 60 years ago.
VERDICT Award-winning Scottish author Mina's (Blood, Salt, Water) stand-alone is a disappointment. Unfortunately, there is no sympathetic main character and little fulfillment at the end. Readers will be left wondering at the stylistic devices and wishing for a better resolution. [See Prepub Alert, 11/21/16.]
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